Iraq’s Housing Program Isn’t Panning Out

January 29, 2011 at 10:06 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Iraq’s Housing Program Isn’t Panning Out

(Agence France Presse)
According to the Iraqi government and outside experts Iraq needs between 2-3 million new houses in the coming years. That’s largely due to a 3% annual population growth rate, and the hundreds of thousands of people displaced during the civil war. The problem is that Iraq doesn’t have the money to pay for that many units, and was hoping that with improved security, foreign investment would begin flowing into the country and help to meet this need. In early 2010 the National Investment Commission said it wanted bidders on 1 million new houses worth $50 billion. Since then the government has made several claims about contracts being signed, but nothing much has actually materialized.

By the 3rd quarter of 2010 Iraq claimed that it had signed deals with 35 international firms to build 1 million housing units, but little of that panned out. The government said companies had agreed to construct 244,000 units in Baghdad, 100,000 in Mosul, and 80,000 in Basra, amongst others. In May, after a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, authorities announced that Jordan’s Amwaj International would invest $238 million in houses and hotels. Nothing has happened since then. In September, the National Investment Commission told the media that it had closed deals with two United Arab Emirates construction companies for $66 billion. Since then, no contracts have been signed. In November, the Investment Commission proclaimed that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with a South Korean company for 500,000 housing units. The Korean company later denied that story. All of these examples highlight the bad habit that Baghdad has fallen into lately. It is increasingly releasing statements about deals being signed, development plans moving forward, etc., but then months later nothing becomes of them.

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